Parents worry.  We worry about the latest flu bug.  Worry about keeping household cleaners and other poisons out of the reach of our young kids.  Worry about a child getting a hold of matches.  Worry about SIDS.  Worry about falls on stairways.  Worry about handguns and assault weapons at schools or even from under a mattress at home.  Most parents spend the necessary time protecting their babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers from a host of potential dangers.  Unfortunately, for some children, the amount of time worrying about traveling in a car literally stops when the caregiver buys a carseat and quickly belts it into their vehicle.  Even then, perhaps only because it’s required by law, up to age 8 in most states.  Should they care more, or is it just another case of nanny state interference?

I did a quick inquiry of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS database on the leading causes of death.  For the most recent decade of data, 2001- 2010, I took a look at the top killers of children ages 1 to 8 years old.  Here’s what I found:

#1 cause of death overall: Motor Vehicle Traffic, 8,640 deaths

#2 cause of death overall: Malignant Neoplasms, 7,745 deaths

#2 cause of death from unintentional injury: Drowning, 5,697 deaths

Some Other causes of untintentional fatal injury combined:  Fires/burns (3,123), suffocation (1,682) , falls (520),  poisoning (438) , influenza (1,651), firearms (278 unintentional + 859 homicide).  Total = 8,551 deaths.

ALL other causes from unintentional injury combined, other than motor vehicle crashes, drowning and fires: Total = 6,692 deaths.

As you can see, car crashes take more lives than many other causes of fatal injury, combined!  The numbers are staggering in comparison, yet we never hear about outbreaks, sprees or epidemics of car crashes.  Sadly, the #1 killer claims its victims quietly, one, two or three young lives at a time.  There are rarely front page stories.  There are no headlines on the six o’clock national news.  Yet, this killer continues to claim the lives of more children each year than all the causes that mainstream media fear mongers place daily into every worrying parent’s mind.  Most of these deaths are to children who are not using an appropriate child restraint at all.  Misuse contributes to injuries for many of those who are using a child restraint system.

The vaccine is proven.  The CDC calls the fight against this killer, “A winnable battle.”  The effectiveness of this vaccine varies from 54% for children to 71% for infants.  So, why do many parents choose not to protect their children, according to best practices set by the pediatricians that  they trust?  We wish we knew!  Some argue against these safest practices, citing a variety of reasons why the burden is simply to great.  We think the burden is essentially nothing at all in terms of time, hassle or money, especially compared to the burden of having a child become a statistic.

What do you think?  Possible cure to a quiet epidemic?  Or is your freedom to parent your child being unfairly restricted by the government?  Is keeping your toddler rear-facing too expensive or too time-consuming?  Or do you try to follow the advice of major organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NHTSA or Safe Kids USA?  When you are with other moms or dads, does talking about carseat safety elicit the same interest as school shootings or the latest flu strain?